It's never easy for any creator to give up control of their creation, and George Lucas learned that lesson first hand in a massive way back in 2012. It was in October of that year that the deal for Lucasfilm to be sold to the Walt Disney Company was closed, and when that happened the filmmaker made the decision to step away and hand creative control of the Star Wars franchise to a new generation. It surely must have been an incredibly difficult decision, as the Skywalker Saga had been a part of his life for multiple decades, but now he's revealed why selling to Disney was the right time to step back, and it's a very good reason: he wanted time to see his soon-to-be-born daughter grow up.
Author Paul Duncan has posted an excerpt from his new book "The Star Wars Archives Episodes I-III" on his Twitter page, and in the interview featured George Lucas discusses why he decided to walk away from the franchise when he did. As he explains, it came down to answering a pair of questions. Said Lucas,
In 2012 I was 69. So the question was am I going to keep doing this the rest of my life? Do I want to go through this again? Finally, I decided I'd rather raise my daughter and enjoy life for a while.
In case it wasn't blatantly obvious, making Star Wars movies is incredibly challenging and taxing work. There are thousands of moving parts that come with navigating one of the most popular franchises of all time and working to create films that are both substantial and commercial, and George Lucas decided that he wasn't mentally ready to go through all of that for the creation of a third trilogy. With more desire to spend time with his family than add to the legacy of the sci-fi universe, he opted to hand over the reigns to Kathleen Kennedy.
As for why George Lucas had to essentially retire from the franchise instead of continuing on as a backseat contributor, the filmmaker also had an answer for that: he doesn't feel he has the capacity to take on a role like that. While it's true that he is only credited as the director of one of the movies in the original Star Wars trilogy, he admits in the interview that not having that specific title was actually a source of frustration for him on the set of the latter two titles. He explained,
I could have not sold Lucasfilm and gotten somebody to run the productions, but that isn't retiring. On The Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi I tried to stay out of the way, but I couldn't. I was there every day. Even though the people were friends of mine and they did great work, it wasn't the same as me doing it; it was like being once removed. I knew that probably wouldn't work again, that I'd be frustrated. I'm one of those micromanager guys, and I can't help it. So I figured I would forgo that, enjoy what I had, and I was looking forward to raising my daughter.
George Lucas made that call eight years ago, and since then the Star Wars franchise has continued to flourish and expand. In addition to releasing five big screen features, The Mandalorian has become a huge success as the franchise's first live-action series, and there is plenty more on the way from both departments.